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Exploring Astronomical Knowledge and Traditions in the Torres Strait: A Project Supported by the Australian Research Council

1 Jan 2014, 05:45 UTC
Exploring Astronomical Knowledge and Traditions in the Torres Strait: A Project Supported by the Australian Research Council
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In previous posts, we explored aspects of cultural astronomy in the Torres Strait. The indigenous people of these islands have a culture based on astronomy, yet the last major work on Islander astronomy was published in 1907. And even then the author clarified that his study was grossly incomplete. In the 1993 book "Stars of Tagai" by Nonie Sharp (Aboriginal Studies Press), she explained how Islander people were guided by Tagai - who is seen as a large constellation stretching from the Southern Cross to Corvus, down to Scorpius. Although the book contains important astronomical information, it is not about Islander astronomy and it does not shed light on Islander knowledge relating to the Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds, sun, moon, any of the planets, or other astronomical phenomena.The constellation of Tagai, on which Torres Strait Islander culture is based.Image credit: Nonie Sharp, 'Stars of Tagai: The Torres Strait Islanders', basedupon a watercolour by Lieut.G.Tobin, Mitchell Library, and drawings of theTagai Constellation by Gizu and Mariget of Mabuiag. This left a gap in our knowledge about cultural astronomy in the Torres Strait. Dr Duane Hamacher, a Lecturer in the Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit at the University of New South Wales, ...

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